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Sep 22, 2020

Independence Day Drug Plane; 5 Men are Detained, including a Minor

On Independence Day, a drug plane landing just outside of Santa Martha Village in the Orange Walk District. Five persons, including the owner of the farm, a Mennonite, a farmhand and a minor, are detained and charges are expected to be placed on them. Police did not find the drugs, but found a number of items near the clandestine airfield including motorcycles, lights and a power saw.  This afternoon, Marcel Cardona, the attorney for the detained persons claimed that the farmhand and the minor were held hostage by a group of armed masked men. Here is News Five’s Duane Moody with a report.



Duane Moody, Reporting

In the wee hours of Independence Day, a suspected drug plane crash landed near the Nueland area, approximately seven miles from Santa Martha Village on the Old Northern Highway, in the Orange Walk District. The low flying aircraft was reportedly en route to Mexico, but ended up landing in Belize after the Mexican Navy, with its Comprehensive Air Surveillance System, activated three planes to fly over the south of Quintana Roo to detect the illegal entry of the aircraft suspected to be loaded with drugs from South America.


Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“Sunday night, we received information of a tracking that had left South America and was heading in this region. Based on the information that we had received, we deployed members of the Police Department as well as the Belize Defense Force, as would normally do, to various possible landing sites. We monitored the track throughout the night and sometime around two a.m. Monday, we were told that the plane had landed somewhere in the north, but we could not have ascertained the exact location.”


With support from the Mexican aircrafts, the crash site was located. By the time joint police and B.D.F. team arrived at the farm, the suspect illicit cargo had already been offloaded and removed from the area; the aircraft, using a heavy duty equipment, had been pushed off the road and into bushes. A number of items used in the illicit activity was retrieved from the scene and is now in police safekeeping.


Chester Williams

Chester Williams

“They came across the plane, which is a jet. The plane was checked and there was no content. Subsequent investigation into the landing of the plane led to the detention of five individuals. Those persons are in police custody as the investigation continues. One of the persons detained is the owner of the farm on which the plane landed. Another person is a Mennonite who owns a bulldozer that was also found on the scene and we believe that the bulldozer was used to cart the plane off the road and pushed into some bushes. We also found a tractor with a bush-hog that we believe was used to clear the area. A number of lights were found that we believe were used to illuminate the makeshift airstrip for the landing of the plane. We also found power saw that was used to cut down some posts along the road and we found some motorcycles that we believe was used by some of the persons who assisted in the landing of the plane.”


The plane landed on a dirt road to a farm belonging to Noel Codd, a licensed auctioneer from Orange Walk. According to attorney Marcel Cardona, his client recently purchased the property from the Hines family. Gilbert Hines and his seventeen-year-old nephew are farmhands at the property, who along with Codd were at the police station giving statements this afternoon. Cardona says that the Hines are victims; they were held hostage by a group of about eight to twelve armed masked men from Sunday evening.


Marcel Cardona

Marcel Cardona, Attorney

“My information is that my client’s only connection to this plane landing is that his farm was somehow involved or a portion of his farm is somewhat involved. The plane, I understand, landed about a mile and a half from his farm. The information that I have gathered so far is that it appears that some of the persons that may have participated used a portion of his farm as a staging ground from which they then sprung into action later on that evening to conduct whatever. In the meantime, Mister Codd’s two labourers, who are the caretakers of the property, were held hostage by the gunmen until around the hour, sometime after midnight—around one a.m. to two a.m.—that the plane allegedly or supposedly landed. And then after all the gunmen cleared the area, my other two clients which would be the Hines were able to then safely leave the premises since the gunmen that had held them hostage had already left the area. And that these gunmen were all masked.”


Commissioner of Police Chester Williams says that it is expected that at least two of five men detained so far, including a Mennonite will be charged for their alleged involvement in the suspect narco-trafficking activity.


Chester Williams

“We believe that by day end today or by early tomorrow morning, we should be able to charge at least two individuals; that is the owner of the farm and the Mennonite who owns the bulldozer, both of whom we have received reliable information and evidence to suggest that they were on the site when the plane landed. So we believe that we will be able to make an arrest on this instance.”


Marcel Cardona

“I fail to see how there can be criminal responsibility on the part of Mister Codd. It is just like if I own a property, I own a farm and somebody goes and commits a murder on my farm. What do I have to do with that? I don’t have anything to do with that except being the property owner. And unless the police are able to come up with some other evidence, conclusive evidence showing otherwise, then I do not share the commissioner’s view.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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